Saturday, June 16, 2012

Marriage is a lot like riding. There is a lot of commitment required; you have no idea where you are going; it is easy to get distracted. I remember those early days of marriage. The bliss at making a meal and shopping within a budget. We looked at the future with smiles. We meandered through muddy waters of others' breakups, witnessed uncomfortable fights and unruly children. We clearly knew where we did not want to go. We chose a road less traveled. In fact, our road was more like a path that we blazed ourselves. We were the family with all the traditional values of morality, love and harmony, mixed with punk-rock, tattoos and motorcycles. I have always loved the road less traveled. It can be lonely. It can be more vulnerable, but it also has the most amazing twists and turns and pristine lakes at 6 am. We have not always been able to take off for a ride...ballet, taekwando, piano, drums, school, concerts, sickness, seizures, heartbreak, and love have meant we waited for the next leg of our journey. We are mostly there. Friday our youngest will completed her last day of high school. Her journey has been the hardest for me to bear. She has always been our frail one. The one who missed her 1st and 6th birthday in the hospital. The one that missed her 10th grade for a brain tumor. Last night she presented her story in Spanish to us all. Bravely with a great rolling accent she recounted the story of her family. Her daddy, idolizing Evel Kneivel and the rest of us with the idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. Riding is a lot like marriage. You have to be committed or you'll crash. I remember to watch the apex of the corner...it keeps me focused. Slower speeds can sometimes bog you down and make you wobbly. You need to find the right flow. I love riding side by side with my man. The trust we need gives me confidence. He trusts me enough to glide through a twist as though we have an axle joining us. The thought dawned on me he could just have amazing observation skills like a football player watching the opponent for a miniscule turn of a hip....but I choose to think the former. Some roads will annoy you, as will the traffic, other drivers and the weather....but the journey...the wind...being and living is what it is all about.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Every now and then I realize I have a growth spurt. I liken it to reaching the next level on MarioKart or PacMan. The understanding of timing, gaps, speed, corners becomes sharpened and it all seems to align with gliding like a flow. It does not escape my notice that the cockiness I had riding two years ago should shame me now. I know now what I did not know....I know now I know very little. Racing - well it felt that way to me - through the rural road in perfect unison with others and yet solo, my awareness at the movement of inches, the flutter on the tarmac and all my senses heightened. I feel meant to tame a wild horse even if it is iron. There is a feeling of invincibility mixed with vulnerability. The balance necessary to keep my head on straight.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Shower

...I believed him. It is just a sprinkle he said. I have five minutes to get ready and out the door. I could see the ominous sky, but I trusted him....the weatherman probably said the same thing. We are off to an event in Vancouver, and we arrive just as the rain begins it relentless downpour. I have no rain gear..DOH! I have no long underwear! DOH DOH!! My gloves are soaking, my face shield is fogging up and I can barely see through the rain drops that magnify everything out of focus. The journey home I am cautious of slicks, puddles, drivers who can't see me, the Harley ahead that has no fender and is spraying - well more like shooting water ten feet behind his tire. I maneuver out of his path several times...but alas it is not always possible and my helmut becomes soaking wet inside as the spray comes in the vents. In retrospect it sounds like the most horrible experience...but, really - I was wet, cold and a little tired from squeezing the handlebars so as to avoid a slip....but at the same time, i realized that it was an experience that helped to prepare me for eventualities. You cannot live in Vancouver without getting caught in the rain. Note to self - rain gear is recommended!! Note to self - twice without long underwear is proving I am more a fool than I thought. But if I stopped riding spotting every cloud in the sky, I might only ride a few days a year - and that would never do.

Vancouver or Bust

I never mind leaving early in the morning. The sun isn't warm yet, but the roads are clear and there is a crispness to the air. I bravely did not wear long underwear forgetting that we are riding next to the water. It was colder than I expected and kept me fixated on the destination and mostly forgetting about the road. Ever in awe of the landscape that unfolds as we cut our swathe through the sea-to-sky highway where there are breathtaking moments of eagles soaring, bears foraging and the blue of the ocean moving in rhythm to the cadence of the motor. I am gaining momentum in the confidence department with respect to curves at 100k. My eyes dart to where I want to go automatically now...ignoring things that distract my wheels from flowing through the esses. I rarely intake nervous breaths or bite me cheeks on our return. The bike and I have an understanding and it yields to my movements readily now. My arms are now used to their position and I can feel my right palm is stronger than at the beginning of the weekend. We follow the same route home...Marine Drive and amidst the curving tarmac and head over the Lions Gate bridge. This is when I notice the wind's intensity. I was being pushed around and had little drops in my stomach as I tried to anticipate how I would be moved next. "We made it." Ken's traditional line at the end of a ride. It was the best 29th Anniversary I have ever had.
We are celebrating decades together in the village after the most decadent of dinners that shame my mostly natural diet. The dinner is Mr Noodles...and yes...still vegetarian....I had no more energy left to even talk to a server or think of something I wanted...Mr. Noodle was hot and it would go with the other crap in the basket at that moment. I was tired and really could not care in the least, though knew I must confess. For any that thought me worthy of any purity honorific...know I am not worthy.....In fact I ate a yogurt and fruit at those golden arches the next morning casting me into eternal damnation. But.... We pressed on. We enjoyed the village with the chaos of all the mountain bikers. Dodging many we propped on a wall to see the comings and goings of the gangs of bikes that paraded amongst the promenade. It was awesome to see youngsters going for broke - riding hard, fast, and yet in the foray knowing to tame it down and alter the ego. We think of riding peak to peak...or perhaps going up to the grill on top...but decide that maybe we should head to Pemberton, a town north of Whistler - and a nice ride. My energy is restored by a great sleep and we are off, winding through Alpha and Green Lake and the beauty of the road less traveled. And it is at that. I am completely and utterly restored on the journey. I have music playing and I am loving every minute of the curves. We ride along - sometimes side by side and completely in sync..and sometimes askew and wondering what the other is doing... paralleling our 29 years of marriage. We ride on do Darcy...cottage country past Pemberton and a road that I will never forget. It is on that road I felt more than joy of curves and wind...but the sense of being in control and out of control at the same time. We rarely met another motor, and when we did I felt bowed to, as royalty and a curtsey. I never have asked for that..and when it happens I am never sure the reaction I want to give. Darcy is wonderful, charming to us because of the serenity. We could have done anything there without being disturbed....just that kind of place...We head back on the charming esses that make us love this road...back to Pemberton for picnic food. Gathering supplies we are at Nairn Falls. It does not escape us that our son has Nairn as a middle name, the town of his great-great grandfather. Could we really pass it by? No... We take our picnic on a journey trek that says it is 1.5 kms but we find a place that meets our needs. A sandy shore amidst the trail that is completely idyllic. We eat and laugh and take pictures...smoke a pipe and smile a lot. I am getting tired now (bony arms and lots of throttle still) We head back to the hotel.... And...although again lacking energy we must sustain ourselves and so we head to the village of Whistler scouting food that will be what we need. (Doesn't that sound so dramatic!!! Not intended at all) Wait until I post about the ride home....

Whistler or Bust

The anticipation of the journey and, the destination were enough to disrupt my sleep. Waking at 4:00am buzzing with energy I knew it would be a long day. Bags packed, iPod charged, bike prepared by the man of my dreams and we are off. Me, to put time in at work, he, off to idle away some time until I feel ready to leave...a few suggestive texts and he is downstairs and awaiting the road. We meander through Vancouver, North Van and finally onto lower Marine Drive that winds along some of the priciest and most beautiful real estate in the country. The most prolific vehicle impeding is landscaping trucks that jut from the narrowed roads. There is not much traffic, and I am loving this trek. The ocean emerges as we espy a freighter that seems out of place in this luxurious location. A desolate windy road amongst ferraris and bmws that gaze on a rusted cargo ship. We twist our way to Horseshoe Bay and press on to Squamish. Bear in mind this is my first big trip. Bear in mind I have only gone 100k for limited times. Bear in mind I ride a 250. I say this to set the stage for the next leg of the journey in which my ears, not accustomed to the roar of the wind, nor the concentration of the mind for taking corners amidst the din...did this and more for a long time. I had no idea how hard it would be. Really. Honestly. That first leg had my skinny arms screaming for muscle, my ears begging for quiet, my tongue wanting a drink more than water, and my neck was so tight I thought it would snap if I turned it. Ever being the trooper I survived, albeit humbled. I am humbled at the skill it takes to concentrate on the apex. I am humbled that the things I was so sure of were whisked away at that moment. We break for food and my arms are buzzing. I am reassured to press on to Whistler and the awaiting five star accommodations which now boasts "diamond" status. The next leg of the journey I feel less dramatic about. I am in control, although an itchy head has me screaming for some device that I can "clap on"... I succumb and pull over which leaves my man wondering what has happened. I know he checks his side mirror much less often as I am at the side of the road a long time before I hear the timbre of his motor to check on me. I am nonchalant at now. I know my way to Whistler. I know where the Four Seasons is too. We press on together. Sometimes so in sync with the curves you would swear we are one. I love those moments. The moments when we hugs curves in faith that each will fulfill their end of the bargain. "Nerd Alert" that is something that is extremely gratifying to me. Riding side by side in complete and utter trust. Knowing that our lives are dependent on each other.